Tag: Phoenix Suns

2015 NBA Draft

NBA rookie survey suggests Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor was a mistake


Most NBA teams would have picked Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. I would have. The Timberwolves did.

But a plurality of NBA rookies prefer Okafor, who went No. 3 to the 76ers.

Two responses in NBA.com’s annual rookie survey reveal that:

Who will be the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year?

1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 41.9 percent

2. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 19.4 percent

3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 12.9 percent

T-4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 9.7 percent

D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers — 9.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Trey Lyles, Utah

Which rookie will have the best career?

Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 24.1 percent

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 17.2 percent

T-3. Justin Anderson, Dallas — 13.8 percent

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 13.8 percent

5. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 8.0 percent

6. Sam Dekker, Houston — 6.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Bobby Portis, Chicago; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Kristaps Porzingis, New York; D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee

Picking Okafor for Rookie of the Year doesn’t necessarily mean he should have gone No. 1. The former Duke center is exceptionally polished offensively, and he should fill a big role on the lowly 76ers.

But the “best career” question is essentially asking who should have gone No. 1 – especially considering Towns and Okafor play the same position. Perhaps, a majority of respondents who took a third candidate would have taken Towns over Okafor, changing results of a run-off race. But with the information we have, plurality rules.

The survey also includes other interesting (Mavericks’ Justin Anderson as most athletic), unsurprising (Suns’ Devin Booker as best shooter) and surprising (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as best defender) responses. Willie Cauley-Stein went No. 6 to the Kings largely based on his ability to guard the interior and exterior. If he’s not elite defensively – and his peers don’t rate him that way, ranking him fourth with 5.9% of votes – questions about his offense and rebounding become more significant.

For the second straight year, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James ranked 1-2-3 as rookies’ favorite players.

Of course, don’t take these responses as gospel. Despite 13.8% of respondents – tied for third most – picking Anderson to have the best career, nobody voted for him as the draft’s biggest steal. How you can think the No. 21 pick will have the best career yet isn’t the draft’s biggest steal is beyond me.

Grizzlies, in need of third center, sign Michael Holyfield

Michael Holyfield, Chris Singleton
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Grizzlies, despite their reputation as large and interior-oriented, had fewer centers last season than most teams.

Starter Marc Gasol is back. Brandan Wright is now the backup, replacing Kosta Koufos, who signed with the Kings.

But Memphis didn’t really have a third center. Jon Leuer, a slim power forward, nominally filled the role, and the Grizzlies traded him to the Suns.

Have they found a true third center?

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

If the Grizzlies keep Holyfield into the regular season, that one-year minimum contract will essentially become a standard contract.

Can he stick?

Memphis has 14 players with guaranteed contracts plus JaMychal Green ($150,000 guaranteed). Green’s guarantee gives him a leg up.

So does his ability. Holyfield faces a steep increase in competition from the Southland Conference. His size advantage is much less pronounced in the NBA, and he has yet to show the skills necessary to handle it.

But Memphis could use a third center for insurance. Gasol is on the wrong side of 30. Wright, though healthy last season, played just 58, 64, 49, 37, 39 and 38 games in his other six NBA seasons. Zach Randolph could handle the position if pressed, but that’s not ideal.

It makes sense for the Grizzlies to waive Holyfield and assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, the Iowa Energy. It also makes sense for Memphis to find a third center, someone better than Holyfield. Until the latter happens, I wouldn’t consider the former a total lock.

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)

Brandon Knight on Markieff Morris: “If he stays with us, we’d love to have him”

Markieff Morris

Since they traded his twin brother Marcus to the Pistons, Markieff Morris has made his displeasure with the Suns very well known. He said unequivocally last week, on record, that he’s “not going to be there.” A few days later, a report surfaced that Morris would prefer to be traded to either the Rockets or the Raptors. Whatever happens, he wants out of Phoenix, and it’s probably in the Suns’ best interests to trade him rather than deal with a headache of lingering drama in training camp.

But while most of Phoenix’s front office undoubtedly want him gone at this point, his teammates don’t feel that way. Point guard Brandon Knight, who just signed a five-year, $70 million deal this summer to stay with the Suns, said in a radio interview that he wants to play with Morris if he sticks around.

Via Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

“That’s really all I can speak on that matter — just want him to be happy,” Knight told Jared Greenberg and Rick Fox on “Off the Dribble” after Morris went public with his desire to leave the Suns this week. “If he stays with us, we’d definitely love to have him. Great player. I’m looking forward to playing with him. But if not, it’s a business. Like I said, I just want Markieff to be happy. That’s the main thing. I love him as a player. I love his game. So as of now, I’m excited to play for him.”

Just going to go out on a limb here and say it’s highly unlikely Morris is still in Phoenix by training camp. If they keep him, they open themselves up to the possibility of this drama spilling out into the season, which is not a great option for a team that’s on the bubble between the playoffs and the lottery. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to get much for him, even though he’s a starting-caliber power forward on a terrific contract. He and his brother still have that felony assault charge looming, and this post-trade episode will only create more question marks about his attitude that will give teams pause about giving up a lot of value for him.

Jerry Colangelo: Kobe Bryant wants to play in 2016 Olympics only if he earns spot on Team USA

US guard Kobe Bryant controls the ball d

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Kobe Bryant could make Team USA for the 2016 Olympics.

Kobe didn’t attend this week’s somewhat-mandatory minicamp, but his Olympic spot won’t be gifted. He’ll have to meet, as Colangelo tells it, self-imposed standards.

Colangelo, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“And so, he also mentioned to me in a private conversation that if he had his druthers, he would love to ride off into the sunset playing one more time and winning the gold medal. And that would be the end. But he was very quick to say, ‘But, I don’t want a spot. I need to earn the spot. I need to be capable of playing at that level to be considered.’ And I said, ‘You got that. That’s always there for you, Kobe.'”

At 33, Kobe was already the oldest player on Team USA by four years in the 2012 Olympics. Considering the next-oldest player was Tyson Chandler, who also didn’t attend this week’s minicamp, that gap would likely be even wider in 2016.

Having a single older player isn’t unprecedented. A 35-year-old Jason Kidd was six years older than any Team USA teammate in 2008. Kidd won a gold medal in 2000 and didn’t play in 2004, when the Americans finished with a disappointing bronze. So, Kidd mostly provided veteran leadership in 2008, and the U.S. took gold.

But 2016 will be different. Unlike 2008, the Americans are coming off a gold-medal run in the previous Olympics. They have several players who can play well and carry themselves appropriately. They don’t need a designated elder statesman to guide them.

Granted, there would be something cool about Kobe ending his playing career with Team USA in the Olympics. It’d be akin to Magic Johnson playing in the 1992 All-Star game after retiring. It’s hard to imagine a better sendoff for the internationally inclined Kobe, who has had a great career that already includes two Olympic gold medals.

But a great career doesn’t mean Kobe can still play at the level of the 12 best available Americans. He almost certainly can’t. Kobe hasn’t produced in the last two seasons. That won’t get easier at 37.

If that’s what it will take for Kobe to reach Rio, it’s a huge longshot.